There used to be a time when a doctor would be there for you every step of the way—visiting you in the hospital, spending time to listen to you instead of rushing off to the next patient, and even being available for house calls.
That time is coming back, according to Dr. Ron Haggerty, who, along with nurse practitioner Katherine "Kacki" Beamer, will be opening the Gloucester Court House office of Direct Access Internal Medicine on May 2.
"In this day and age, basically what we have is a situation where the physician is driven by volume," Haggerty said. In the current health care system, doctors are dependent upon fixed-price reimbursements from Medicare and private insurance companies for their income. Therefore, in order to make ends meet, they have to see ever-increasing numbers of patients.
Haggerty and Beamer are offering an alternative to this health care model that harkens back to the days of the country doctor. Instead of the average panel of patients of 2,500 to 3,000, they intend to cap that number at 1,000, allowing them to give more time and attention to each patient’s needs.
To compensate for this lower volume, Direct Access Internal Medicine will charge annual fees ranging from $300 (for a single adult less than 40 years of age) to $1,650 (for a couple over 65). While they will still accept most insurances including Medicare and Tricare, the fees will "give us the cushion that we need" to provide a higher quality of care, Haggerty said.
For that fee, the office will provide services above and beyond those normally expected from a routine medical practice. One of the biggest is being able to see a doctor when you need one. They guarantee either same day or next day appointments on weekdays.
An appointment won’t mean sitting in a waiting room for an hour or more, only to be shuffled off to an exam room to wait some more. Haggerty and Beamer promise on-time appointments of at least 30 minutes. "If you’ve got an appointment at 10, you’ll be seen at 10," Haggerty said.